Rep. Bill Flores (right) visited with students in the Ron E. Smith Academy of Finance at A.J. Moore Academy.
by Mary Senter
A.J. Moore Academy students get encouragement and praise from their congressman
A.J. Moore Academy students received a nice pat on the back this week and a little motivation to keep up the good work they are doing just days before a looming deadline.
We’re not talking about finals or exams, or even STARS testing. Those benchmarks seem trivial when compared to the deadline that these students are facing.
Late in the afternoon on Monday, a few hours after the school dismissal bell had rung, a group of approximately 40 students remained on a near-empty campus. The students, all members of the school’s prestigious Ron E. Smith Academy of Finance, were gearing up for the final push to April 17, 2012, otherwise known as “Tax Day.”
As part of the school’s Ron E. Smith Academy of Finance, students participate in the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, offering basic income tax return preparation for people in low to moderate income brackets. The service also includes free electronic filing. The student volunteers at A.J. Moore Academy have received training from the IRS to help prepare basic tax forms free-of-charge for members of the community.
In 2004, A.J. Moore Academy began offering the IRS VITA program as a service to the Waco community under the direction of the school’s late accounting teacher, Ron E. Smith. In 2011, the Academy of Finance was named the No. 1 top-performing student-operated VITA site in the country. During that school year, student volunteers prepared more than 1,600 returns and its VITA customers received more than $3 million in tax refunds.
So far this year, the Academy has completed 1,709 tax returns totaling $3,534,683 in tax refunds for 2011.
On Monday, prior to meeting with their clients, these students had a private audience with Rep. Bill Flores (R-Texas). The Congressman, also an accountant, visited the students to observe the great service they are providing to the community. He addressed the importance of math education and stressed the importance of setting goals and having dreams.
The students, all highly-motivated, top-of-the-class students, certainly have dreams and goals, especially to attend college after their high school graduation. They shared with Rep. Flores some of their plans. One student said she wanted to be a veterinarian, another a chef. A young man has his plan mapped out in incremental steps. He will go to college, then law school, become a lawyer, write for a publication of some sort, and then ultimately become a politician.
But at this point, these students are only dreaming of one thing: for the calendar to turn to April 18, 2012 when "Tax Day" 2012 will come to a close.